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Heat Can Kill Your Multirotor!

Be careful when you go to fly your rig, make sure it is acclimated to the ambient temperature!

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Acclimate your rig before you fly! Heat Can Kill Your Multirotor!

This is a warning! This past weekend while covering the 2013 XFC for Flyinggiants.com, I took two of my multirotors with me to get some aerial shots of the event. I had both my large XY8 and my smaller quad in the back seat of my car. I got to the flight line at 7:45 am and proceeded to shoot pics and videos all day. The multis sat in the car the entire time. At around 5 pm, I grabbed "El Guapo," the smaller patched-together quad I use to get still shots with my GoPro. This quad has been tuned to perfection and I have around 250+ flights on it. So I know what to expect with this rig. I pulled El Guapo out of the 115 degrees car. I popped on a battery, turned on the GoPro and took off.

Usually when I take off I'll ascend steadily and then fly El Guapo in a nice controlled sideways trajectory, getting shots of my subject the entire time. But this time, El Guapo was unresponsive, and suddenly started to jet right, so I corrected and it jetted left, then it spun around on it's yaw axis. I have to be honest, I was shocked, as El Guapo has been flawless and is always predictable. I fought to get El Guapo down, and at about fifteen feet, it jetted to the right, flipped and took a small dirt nap. I ran over to it and was pretty surprised at how little damage it had. I had broken a prop and popped the plastic bolts that held the FC on the rig.

Yesterday I got caught up with some of my work from being at the XFC and had a chance to fix El Guapo. I reattached the FC, fitted some new props on to the airframe and gave the rig a test. It was right back to being predictable and rock solid. And that is when it hit me. I never gave the rig a chance to acclimate to the ambient temperature before I took off. El Guapo was sitting in a 110 - 115 deg car and I pulled it out, fired it up in the 78 degrees ambient temperature and expected it to perform as it does usually. I think that the sensitive electronics in our rigs can be affected by drastic temperature changes, and I would advise letting your rig acclimate to the ambient temperature before taking off. Personally, I was very happy I did not fly my big rig, as crashing that would have been horrible.

This advice may not apply to all flight control systems, as perhaps some are not as sensitive to heat, but considering the delicate nature of electronics, and how simple it would be to take an extra few minutes to acclimate your rig, I do not see any harm in making this part of your pre-flight routine.

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Old Jun 19, 2013, 06:22 PM
Registered User
United States, VA, Norfolk
Joined Oct 2006
245 Posts
Pretty good information. I'm glad to hear that your rig did not suffer major damage. I think this should apply to any RC aircraft in general especially foamies considering how well insulated foamies are and how well they can trap heat for long periods.
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 01:20 AM
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Tucson, Az
Joined Feb 2007
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My friend had a good sized quad with all goodies. Frame was some sort of plastic and his quad looked like a pretzel ! Quad was in car for several hours. Dealer of kit would not reply to his emails. Another local guy flew his T-Rex 500 heli and flight was fine. He got busy and never removed battery and let sit connected. Late that afternoon took heli out of trailor and battery burst and ozzed all over his new bird. $50.00 6 cell battery total loss and extensive mess all over his heli. Excess heat can do some harm.
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Old Jun 20, 2013, 05:45 PM
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United States, CA, Fremont
Joined Jul 2011
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To be honest I'm not sure how much I think your issue was a result of the heat. Not that it wasn't, but for electronic, anything under 120 or so shouldn't be affecting the systems. ALL of these individual components used in your system are used elsewhere that go through testing and have to handle stable for long periods of time. The components are designed that way, otherwise they won't sell.

I work with servers and 100 degrees isn't an unstable temp. Infact non of the components reach their limits until well after 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Secondly, The temp was higher in your car than it was outside, then you had to walk to the area, setup and take off. Assuming the electronics were one for a minute or two before flight and however long in the air there is no reason there would be an issue.

Electronics should need to aclimate to temp or pressure, unless there is a control set that reads this like a AGL hold barometer that didn't get the proper settings before take off for the GL and was attempting to hold altitude and you were fighting it. maybe the return to home went rapid. either way I still don't see where the normal Earth temp ranges would affect this.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 01:59 AM
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im flyng my quad in the desert with out any problem. the temp rise from 100F - 110F @ noon to 4pm, i usually fly around 3-3:30pm. it because office time here is different they work 8am-12nn and 4pm-7pm, so that why i can take my free time in the afternoon. all is ok except for the motor that rise 15% above normal temperature. now august is coming it's time for me to stop flying, temp rise 110F -120 max and i experience already door knob getting hot on our accommodation.
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Old Jun 21, 2013, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaydayMayday View Post
To be honest I'm not sure how much I think your issue was a result of the heat. Not that it wasn't, but for electronic, anything under 120 or so shouldn't be affecting the systems. ALL of these individual components used in your system are used elsewhere that go through testing and have to handle stable for long periods of time. The components are designed that way, otherwise they won't sell.

I work with servers and 100 degrees isn't an unstable temp. Infact non of the components reach their limits until well after 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Secondly, The temp was higher in your car than it was outside, then you had to walk to the area, setup and take off. Assuming the electronics were one for a minute or two before flight and however long in the air there is no reason there would be an issue.

Electronics should need to aclimate to temp or pressure, unless there is a control set that reads this like a AGL hold barometer that didn't get the proper settings before take off for the GL and was attempting to hold altitude and you were fighting it. maybe the return to home went rapid. either way I still don't see where the normal Earth temp ranges would affect this.
from what I understand, it's the gyros that don't like being asked to fly while acclimating to temperature changes. It isn't uncommon at all with multi-rotor heli's to have instability when they've been pulled from one temp/humidity environment and put into another without having had enough time to adjust. usually ten minutes or so will do the trick.
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Old Jun 23, 2013, 06:26 PM
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Chesterfield, MO
Joined Nov 2010
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This is one of the big reasons I do not - or try to avoid- flying in the cold. Also, heat can possibly damage some of the composites on your aircraft, and will absolutely be detrimental to the life of your battery if installed.
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Old Jun 23, 2013, 11:02 PM
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United States, TN, Clarksville
Joined Feb 2004
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Heat tends to have an affect on gyros, or at least it used to. I think in the Futaba GY401 manual it states something to the regards of letting the helicopter sit outside for about 10min before trying to fly. Electronics have come a long ways but I still let whatever I am flying acclimate to the temp before attempting to fly. g'luck and be safe.
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Old Jun 27, 2013, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barchiola View Post
from what I understand, it's the gyros that don't like being asked to fly while acclimating to temperature changes. It isn't uncommon at all with multi-rotor heli's to have instability when they've been pulled from one temp/humidity environment and put into another without having had enough time to adjust. usually ten minutes or so will do the trick.
Yes this is the point exactly. I think a constant heat is fine, but going from one temp to another without letting the rig acclimate is the issue.
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Old Jul 11, 2013, 07:41 PM
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United States, TX, Clifton
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100F outside here, my esc and motors are running at 130F-135F ! Is that too hot?
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Old Jul 16, 2013, 01:36 AM
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United States, CA, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
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I concur I recently took mine with me when I had to do training in 29 palms and it was quite the glitchy flight seeing it was 113 degrees outside so god knows what temp it reached prior to
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